Sunday, March 14, 2010

So what's been up in the past 12 years?

I recently went to a good friends wedding who I have known for 18 years roughly. With attending that event a common question asked was, so what's up been up in the past 12 years. Well I have been meaning to write about my past for a while. One reason I haven't is because I dreaded spending a long time writing. So to make it easy and to go with the timing, I decided that I will write about the past 12 years in free writing for 12 minutes in silence. Meaning to write non-stop, one time through with no editing and just letting it flow out as it comes. Talk about really have organization of thoughts in line.

Starting now:

Ok so after graduating from Mount, I went to Central Catholic. There I spend my first two years of high school. Ironically it was also the two required years of ROTC. After that experience I knew that I did not want to join the military. For some reason, I dont know what it is, I decided to go to public school. It could have been because of several things; I felt bad that my high school tutition was so expensive, it was a private catholic school in San Antonio or maybe it was because I didnt really feel like I fit in or I just wanted to try something else. I transferred to a public school in a neighborhood in the area we moved. That wasn't that great of an experience. It was a tough move because everyone was so clickish. I arrived to late to really make any friend. I tried playing football to make friends and that didnt work because I way small and sucked pretty much. All in all high school kinda sucked.

Now in college, that is where life really took its course. My freshmen year I was in all types of clubs at school and very active around campus. I played lacrosse and we won our division championship that year, life was pretty good then. My sophmore year, the first semester, I joined a fraternity at UT and was living the dream. I met my current best friends and did a lot of great things over ther years there. From holding several positions like rush chair, social chair, philthanthropy and fundraising chair. Too funny because I didnt even goto that school I lived in the frat house my junior year. But hold up.

The summber between my sophmore and junior year, my dad died of widespread cancer. A few days prior to his death, I had a surgery for a partial thyroidectomy. A few days later he died then two days after his funeral I got a call from my doctor to go see him immediately. He told me face to face that I had cancer and that we would need to have suergery again in three weeks to take out the other half. To make a long story short, I beat cancer and survived school while working full time at a great company. I graduated magna cum laude honros with a double major in business administration and management. Also, that first semester in school, I met my first mentor who greatly influenced the path I am on today. She taught me the secret and I am seeing it manifest before me today, 5+ years later.

After graudating, I went on a mission trip to Peru and that was a great eye opening experience. A few months after that I went backpacking by myself around Europe for 31 days. I visisted 9 cities and 7 different countries. Aside from my plane ticket and train ticket, of which my family all got me combines. I ventured to Europe on less than a thousand dollars.

I thtne got back and spent two years working with Wells Fargo Bank, both in banking and as a credit manager during a major economic time. The stocket market got cut in half in a matter of months. After two years, I wanted to do something about the financial literarcy situation or lack of in the community. With out hte support of my brance (branch), I quit my job during the worst economic time to do so. I got heavily involved with social innovation and working to this day on developing a social innovation eco- system in Austin to drive real social impact through entrepreneurship. In addition to that, I am also working on various entrepreneurial ventures, One of which is really starting to take off and I am feeling really confident that this is going to be the hone that helps propel me to global recognition. We have a great team and a great strategy. Currently ,my family is awesome except for the fact that my aunt doesnt want anything to do with us. That is so unfortunate because she is reallly missing out. I have the most beautiful and adorable niece. The best big brother in the world, I owe much of my success and growth to him. His awesome wife, who has been a sister and great friend to me since the day she meant me, shes awesome. And my mother who I love so much and am more proud of her every day. She is currently going through a life change. She has lost a ton of weight, moved cities and uprooted her life to start anew with my bro, sis in law, baby k and me. Things are headed in the right track and I look forward to the next 10 amazing years.

bam done with ten seconds to spare.


Sunday, March 7, 2010

Would I sell equity in my life Earnings?

I recently read a blog post by Michael Norton Obe, blogger of The 365 Ways, entitled "Invest in Me"

In a nutshell, he discusses the idea of social entrepreneurs or entrepreneurs in general selling equity in their life earnings. I found it to be an interesting concept but entertained the thought of it. I wrote a lengthy comment but thought I would share it on my blog.

I did check out the two sites mentioned in the article because I am currently working on various social enterprise projects part time as I devote a majority of my time to a paying entrepreneurial venture.

I can attest that if I received a substantial investment, I could devote my full efforts on social innovation and speed up the progress of my current social innovation projects.

Now what is substantial? No idea. For the past 5 minutes I have been thinking of scenarios as to where I would entertain the thought of selling equity in my life earnings. First, I thought what would be the bare minimum amount for me to entertain the investment.

To keep it easy, I selected $100k. I picked this number because I can easily allocate this amount to fully sustain myself as I devote a majority of my time to developing, monetizing and scaling my social venture ideas. Some of which I am bootstrapping right now. A substantial investment would definitely speed up their progress. So if this was the minimum amount, what would be the minimum amount of equity life earnings that would go with this amount? To keep things easy, I chose 1%.

So to entertain the thought, I selected $100k for 1% to start thinking about the possibility. That doesn't seem very bad.

Especially when that thought led me to think that once I multiplied that $100k investment into various profitable social enterprises my social impact value would increase and I could then go back and get additional investment, possibly, from additional investors for more rapid innovation at a higher valuation.

So say 2+ years after the initial $100k for 1%, I could now sell life earnings equity for $250k per 1% and so on as the years go on the valuation per percent is higher. This would greatly benefit the initial investors because every subsequent investment would be compounded with higher investments with very minimal dilution. This could also serve as an exit option for the investor even though there is no buyout clause between myself and the investor. An investor could sell their stake at a premium only with my full approval on the new investor. Of course no one would want to sell their stake in my life earnings equity but it’s to show how flexible it could be.
In the same train of thoughts, I thought of what would be the maximum amount of life equity earnings that I would sell at once. I first started out with what amount I would not even put on the table. 50% was out for sure, and 25% seemed still way too much to give up. So I went with 10%. Once again, to keep it easy, I selected $1 million for 10%. But and this is a big BUT, but wouldn't want it all from one single investor. I would limit a maximum investor amount to be 2.5%.

I would want to build a master mind group who is an all star team in its own merit who can all work together through my actions to drive social innovation. I am a strong believer in the acronym for T.E.A.M., together everyone achieves more.

I would be so committed to whomever I selected as my master mind group of investors that there would be no buyout clause because money wouldn't be a driving force for any of the investors nor me. We would partner up for life because of our passions, personalities and commitment to driving positive innovative change throughout a lifetime.

It is an interesting idea to entertain. It seems like a pretty good idea on the surface but it definitely doesn’t motivate me to go try and sell myself that way. A very small part of me finds it a bit insulting that entrepreneurs would go out there and in a sense “pimp” themselves for investment on their life earnings. I did not want to have to use that word but that was the only word that I could associate to how this idea can be viewed and how it makes me feel in a way. A part of me makes me think that this would be ideal for someone who wants a quick fix and willing to trade a percentage of their life for without putting in the work to manifest their dream. Seems kinda desperate to me but I can definitely see the benefits. This idea of selling equity in life earnings screams to me that entrepreneurs are saying “Hey, I’m a good smart person. Give me money because I am good and smart.” Ok well there are many good and smart people out there. I guess the opposite could work as well where really evil and mean people can invest in up and coming mean and evil people.

Of course there are entrepreneurs who are doing some great things. I checked out the Thrust Fund site and it looks like everyone is working on something great and on the right track to continuing a life time of great things. From my impression, it seems that if an investor were to invest in a Thrust Fund, it would go towards an existent operation. That forces me to ask the question, is the investor investing in the individual or the social enterprise? Most likely it’s both, the individual and the social enterprise. If it is not about the money then how come the investment is seen as a buy into an asset at a rate per percent determined by the entrepreneur? It might be better suited to be structured as a club with memberships. For example, instead of selling 1% of my equity life earnings for $100k, what if I sold one partner spot for $100k. For investors to attempt to see this approach as a means to get any financial return is delusional. Of course we all know that the investors are not investing for financial returns. So if that is the case then why set it up that way to where they are getting a percentage in life earnings? If they are doing it because they want to help a new wave of social innovators then why not set up a concept to where they are buying a membership to your master mind group. Just a twist to the thrust fund concept.

There is a part of me that whispers that I wouldn’t take that kind of offer. There is something not so satisfying about just being given something. In this case, given a substantial amount of money to work on your passions. To me making the dream happen is all part of the journey and to be simply given something to make it easier would take much of the gratification out of the experience. Yes, more innovation can possibly be developed more quickly if money was widely available but much of the experience is how one develops in times of adversity and scarce resources.

I believe it would a disservice to fund an extremely young individual to work solely on their passions with no real experience. Having been learning in the school of hard knocks of the entrepreneurial world under the mentor-ship of many great mentors, I can say it’s a tough out there.

I say this because if someone is just given something of that magnitude then they may not be prepared to handle it. I have been on an entrepreneurial journey for about 5 years now. Most of that time was in school and two years in the professional world working at a bank. Over the years I have tried my hand at over a handful of business ideas where I have invested ample amounts of money and spent many hours on developing. I have learned quite a bit and continue to build upon my experiences so that I can work my way up to doing bigger and bigger things. This past month marks my one year anniversary of pursuing my own endeavors. It was tough first starting out and if it wasn’t for all the lessons over the years of experiences, I would not be who I am today.

I can honestly say that if I was given an easy start from the get go, I would not be who I am today and I wouldn’t trade who I am today for all the money in the world.

Luckily, I see all these years as training and development towards building the mold of who I wish to become. Right now its unfolding nicely and a substantial cash injection would definitely catalyze many great things.

Thanks for sharing the concept of Thrust Fund but I am going to keep on doing what I am doing and if someone approaches me then I will have that discussion and see what unfolds. Let's be honest, a cash infusion in these economic times can do quite a bit of innovation.

Saturday, March 6, 2010

UnUsual Biznuss: How to apply entrepreneurial thinking to addressing social challenges

Well another great RISE Austin has come and passed. It was this time last year when I really started getting into social entrepreneurship. After last year's RISE I set out on a mission to work with a team of very talented and bright social entrepreneurs on developing an eco-system in Austin to foster social innovation. After about nine months of planning and envisioning what it would be like and how it would operate, it all fell apart in a matter of days. It is interesting as to how things can unravel so quickly.

Luckily, I continued on with one of my projects. That of teaching social entrepreneurship to a class of 6th graders at Kealing Middle School through the Citizen Schools after school apprentice program. You can read about that blog here.

With RISE coming around again this year, bigger and better. I volunteered to help Mando Rayo with getting speakers for the multi-cultural series segment of RISE. As more and more of my friends volunteered to host sessions, I would get asked if I was hosting one. After about the fifth inquiry, I was like I am now, lol.

With not much time to plan a presentation, I decided the Wednesday or Thursday before RISE to register for a session, I decided to focus the session on being both a take away and workshop experience. The plan was to talk for like 15 to 20 minutes on my after school social entrepreneurship experience and then engage the audience to go through fast paced versions of the exercises I did with the students. Simple enough.

Well because I delayed in deciding whether or not to host a session, I did not do the proper promotion. I guess one part of me was hoping no one would show up and then another part of me wanted lots of people to show up. Turns out that one person showed up, Maria. A long term veteran in the mobile services industry. I believe she had been working with Sprint since like '95. Maria shared with me that back then, they were telling her that mobile was going to be huge and eventually the norm. That has pretty much come true since then.

Considering that only one person showed up to my session at Cospace, 911 W. Burnet, I adjusted my game plan to fit the situation. Cospace was awesome in hooking up a conference room with a whiteboard so I took full advantage of what was available. I told Maria that I was going to make this more of a one on one workshop to help her find out where her passions lay and how she could do something with her skills to follow suit with her passions. The goal was to show her how in an hour you could apply entrepreneurial thinking to address some social challenge.

Using the entire white board space available, I wrote out four columns; passions/likes, skills, resources, and needs.

Under passions/likes we listed;

networking and meeting people
mobile lifestyle and technology
wanting to do something about human and animal captivity (remember this because I will come back to this later)

Skills & Resources:

Business Development
Networking and social interaction and a vast network
Technology background
Freedom with current job to be out of the office
Access to financial means


Freedom to be out of an office
residual income to sustain lifestyle
Must be doing something that provides some type of value and does good for someone or something.

After we had listed out all this stuff and more, I didnt take notes so I am going all off of memory, lol. So anyways once we had all this listed out. I then went on to dig deeper onto everything. Because quite frankly helping and giving is all types of vague. So I immediately asked "DO you want to give and help animals, women, children, the environment and etc, lets break it down to something specific."

One of the first things that came up was animal captivity and we started talking about elephants chained up and how whenever Maria would see animals in captivity that she would feel real bad. Then from there we led the convo to human captivity and human trafficking. Maria had read somewhere recently that human trafficking is becoming more lucrative for criminals than the drug trade. It turned out that this topic was very close to Maria so we focused on this.

We now how a global social challenge that we could begin to apply entrepreneurial thinking to address. Incorporating her skills and background we decided that it would be best to somehow leverage mobile technology to combat human trafficking. Because of the challenge we selected we also had to add some more things to the needs list; be away from harms way.

To make a 2 hour and 15 minute workshop story short, we ended up coming up with the following idea.

What if there was a program/business/non-profit/something that when a cell phone was bought, a cell phone would be given to someone living in a high risk region of the world for kidnappings, human trafficking and other similar atrocities. That why they could keep in touch with family, be tracked via GPS if taken, the phone network could be leveraged to send out the word when someone went missing so that a network can work together in prevention and retrieval (similar to how you see those warning notices on the express way of what color truck and license plates. But through SMS)

So now that we had a general idea of something that could somewhat address a social challenge. Maria's next question was "So how do we make money off of doing this good?"

Well great question, no one wants to start a venture that loses money. My first suggestion was to have a hybrid type venture where one part of it is non-profit while another portion of it is for profit. The non-profit portion of this imaginary business would be the part that coordinates cell phone carriers, i.e. at&t, sprint, verizon and whomever to participate in this program that would match phone purchases with a phone donations to someone in a high risk region for kidnappings and such to this non-profit. The non-profit would then also serve as the connecting piece to distribute the phones to those in most need. The non-profit arm would also serve as a presence in that area to make people aware of the kidnapping risks in that region and work with the network on retrieval and prevention.

The for profit arm would have to take some thought and time. The initial ideas were to leverage the eventual network of phone recipients as a means to serve up messages and select advertiser mobile offers. Considering that recipients would be in specific areas, we could serve up local business offers to people through this mobile phone network. That was just one of the ideas but there were a few ways to monetize this.

Maria was really excited about having come to the self discovery that she could technically incorporate her passions, skills and resources towards something of meaning and benefit to the world at large by using entrepreneurial thinking to address a social challenge.

My take away from the session/workshop was great. This was the first time I had attempted to do something like this and it went much better than I had anticipated. Maria asked me on several occasions how much I charge to consult people and businesses on how to do this exercise and I said, nothing. I am definitely considering it now and definitely love to do this kind of brainstorming with individuals, groups and organizations all the time.

Innovate on.

Sunday, February 21, 2010

Social Entrepreneurship Apprencticeship through Citizen Schools Fall 2009

Two months have passed since I wrapped up my fall apprenticeship at Kealing Elementary with Citizen Schools. This past fall, I taught an after school class of 6th and 7th graders Social Entrepreneurship.

I went into the apprenticeship with the plan to have the students identify social challenges they face and that I would guide them in developing entrepreneurial solutions to address those challenges to do good and make money.

What kid wouldn't like that idea right? Wait, hold up Mr. JC what are we talking about here?

So the first class we learned about what an entrepreneur was and what a social entrepreneur was. The kids got it, a social entrepreneur is someone that makes money off of their ideas and efforts for doing good. Once the kids got that, we got down to business. What challenges do you all face that you would like to see something done about?

All types of things were mentioned by the students when asked this question. Their responses ranged from not having any space to store belongings to not having school supplies were mentioned amongst other challenges like dealing with bullies and not having healthier food alternatives.

The list of things the students responded were;

healthy snack alternatives
healthy food alternatives, in particular baked goods
lack of school supplies
no recess or physical activity classes
no personal belonging storage, i.e. no lockers

On average in the class there were between 10 and 14 children throughout the ten weeks. So after we shouted out all the things that bothered them that they would like to be addressed we took a long look at the list to see if we could brainstorm any combination to include several challenges/needs into one solution.

After some back and forth exercises the class came to the conclusion to form three groups. Those groups were:

Team Healthy Snacks
They would address the need for healthier snacks in school. Their snacks would be delicious, healthy and affordable for every student at Kealing Elementary.

Team Healthy Baked Goods
Addressing the need for healthy food alternatives by have organic baked breads and deserts.

Team The Hot Spot
Originally thought of as a combination of various responses from the students. The Hot Spot would be a place where students could go to in the morning before class, during lunch and after school to socialize away from bullies, get tutoring help, purchase discounted school supplies, and most of all be themselves.

It was now week three of ten of this apprenticeship and the students now had an idea of what they were going to work on. Well with this happening through Citizen Schools, we had to work up towards a WOW! event at the end of the apprenticeship. In this case our WOW! event would be that the students would think through and develop a business plan for their social entrepreneurial solution and present it to a board of investors, shark tank style. In the next few weeks the students would explore different areas of business. They would then build their business plan week by week leading up to being able to present it to a board of investors.

I am not going to lie and say it was easy to do this. There were many times, I felt like just quitting because I could not get the students to work together. But every time I felt like that, I had to remind myself why I was there. I was there to spark that interest in a kid for a lifelong of learning and curiosity for understanding that today's challenges can be solved with ideas and action. That it is possible to start a business to make money and do good at the same time.

Every week I broke down a different business component down to its most basic understanding to something they could relate to for their understanding and guided them in applying it in their business. With each class only lasting for an hour and half we had to cover a lot of ground in a short amount of time. This is how the schedule worked out vaguely;

Week 1 - Understand social entrepreneurship
Week 2 - Identify challenges in schools and break into solution group
Week 3 - Formulate vision of business concept to address challenge identified
Week 4 - What makes up a business? Learn basic parts of a business
Week 5 - Product or Service? What is it that we are selling? Understanding the difference between the two
Week 6 - Who's your customer and how are they going to hear about you?
Week 7 - How is this going to cost and how much are we going to sell it for?
Week 8 - How is the plan going to roll out and piecing it all together in a business plan.
Week 9 - Practice WOW! presentation to shark tank style investor panel.
Week 10 - Present business plans to shark tank investor panel for funding on their idea.

Huge task ahead for the kids from the get go but I knew they could do it. Kids are plenty smart these days. Looking back on the experience, the greatest thing was seeing that transformation of kids who were fighting each other that first class to those same kids providing constructive criticism to classmates in Week 9 WOW! practice. What a little instruction and persistence can do in a child's life.

Come the day of the WOW!, the class had three business concepts;

Healthy snacks group launching with organic apple slices with organic peanut butter optional organic raisins as their product. Future product would be some type of mixed nuts package.

Healthy baked goods group launching with an organic based cheesecake with future ideas of adding cookies, breads and other desserts entirely organic.

The Hot Spot. A place for 6th to 8th graders could go to before school, during lunches, and after school to socialize away from bullies, buy school supplies, get tutoring help, do their homework and most of all a place to be themselves.

The students each went up as a group in front of a few friends of mine, of which, were successful entrepreneur and business professionals. In attendance there were about 20 friends and family members of the students watching them present to the Shark Tank Style Investor Panel, with 5 Investors.

All the groups did a great job presenting their business on what it was and how it would work. They answered questions from the investors and did quite well in speaking in front of such a large group.

After the three groups presented, we escorted them out of the library where the WOW! was taking place so that the investors could discuss their decisions. We brought the students back in and we said the investor had decided to invest in all of their businesses if and only if they all joined forces. To add to The Hot Spot, healthy snacks and baked good would have to be partnered and sold within the same space. There was $80 available to start the business but because of time constraints and school rules the business could not actually take flight. The goal was achieved in that they learned to think of solutions and a way to make money in doing so.

Hopefully this experience sparked an interest in at least one student in solving social challenges through entrepreneurial solutions.

I start my second go around at teaching entrepreneurship to middle schoolers again. This time it is down at Bedichek in South Austin through the same program, Citizen Schools. This time I am doing it through the Lemonade Day program and working with two successful entrepreneurs. I plan to keep better notes this time around.

Thursday, January 21, 2010

Haiti Relief Jam benefiting Makarios

It was late Thursday morning and I received an email from my friend Martin Montero, @montero, that included Mehul Patel from Dominican Joes, Sharla Megilligan from Makarios International, Clayton Christopher from Sweet Leaf Tea and a few people from If I am leaving out someone, I'm sorry, remind me and I can edit this post easily. Everything happened so quickly that the whole experience seemed like a fast forward scene.

Moving on, the email in a nutshell said hey, we have a local business, Dominican Joe, who was connected to Makarios International down in the Dominican Republic. From what I knew about Dominican Joe, I knew that the coffee beans were bought from there and that on those coffee bean farms, workers were paid very well and treated great. In addition to that, other services were also provided. A big focus of Makarios International is education development. Everyone included in the email knew the relation very well so that checked mark the first requirement in coming together to answer the call of action. A COMMON PURPOSE. In any successful undertaking everyone must share the common purpose or vision.

When the earthquake had hit and devastated Haiti, the Makarios staff/community quickly mobilized to pack up supplies and drive them to the Haitian border.Well before the international community could render aid. As planes were backed up and unable to deliver supplies, Makarios International was shuttling supplies to those in immediate need. I'm sure Makarios was not the only presence in the Dominican Republic shuttling supplies to Haiti but they did have a local connection to an Austin business and its email somehow found its way to my Inbox.

Rewind to the night before.

On Wednesday night, I was working out at Golds Gym and was watching the news channel and it was covering the Haiti quake. As I ran on this stationary device going no where, I thought to myself "man this is really devastating, I need to do something. But what I asked what can I do?" I thought that night and didn't really come up with any great ideas other than donating funds to Red Cross or another organization soliciting for donations on TV. Every time I considered it, I would talk myself out of it by thinking about "what does $10 really do when its donated to a major non-profit?" At the time I wasn't aware of what Makarios was doing and didn't make the connection that maybe they are doing something.

Come Thursday morning, I get an email around 10:30 am from my friend Martin Montero out in Boston that included a few people on it that all provided something to make something happen to get support for Haiti and that they needed a group organizer. To have a willing group of complimentary components takes time to build so we had a foundation to implement something quickly. As soon as I read that email, I immediately responded and signed up for the task. I couldn't believe it, here came a great idea to do more for help to those in need than donating $10. Don't get me wrong donating $10 is great, it all adds up and without money the required needs can't be provided. I instantly thought of what we could do. That was to organize a benefit music concert. I had always wanted to organize a music event that benefited a cause, so here was an opportunity to do just that. But time was of the essence, peoples lives depended on food and medical supplies and every passing day more people died because of a lack of assistance.

After responding to the email that I would help lead the fundraiser. The next question was "When should we do it. The 18th, in just a few days away, or the 25th?" Without hesitation, I replied the 18th. I had images from the news of all the people in Haiti and thought to myself, "there's people hurting right now and every minute counts. Time is of the essence and every minute, hour, day people's chances of survival diminishes. So we had to act fast. I quickly got in touch with Mehul Patel, one of the owners of Dominican Joe, and we met face to face at Dojo within less 2 hours or something. We quickly met and got down to business. He brought me up to date on how Sharla was down in the Dominican Republic literally packing up and shuttling vans of supplies to the Haitian border to two specific orphanages that had many people but was not getting aid from large assistance initiatives. What better cause to support than donating funds to a local business that had an extremely strong tie to Makarios International in the Dominican Republic and was directly helping those in greatest need.

Mehul and I came to the conclusion that the quickest and most effective way to get the word out and coordinate a fundraiser to benefit those in direct need was to put on a benefit musical line up. We wanted to have a gameplan as quickly as possible because earlier that day or the day before, a local news station had contacted Dominican Joe to see what they were doing because of the quake and that they were going to come out to their coffee shop to get the word out. So now we knew what we were going to do and when. Check check. Now make it happen.

We left the details open and just ran with it. If we got a great response from bands to do this on such short notice then we would do it all day and even carry it on to other days or something. We hand a general idea, music event benefiting Makarios, and its on Monday. Time to be determined. We left the meeting and Mehul quickly got up a page on the Dojo site with a paypal button and updates of the unfolding music event benefiting Markaios within hours.

As Mehul went to do that and send out a message to the rest of the team. I dialed without hesitation my friend and colleague, Lucy Frost. I knew she was into music, bands, putting on shows and had a big 'ol kind heart and would definitely help out. Without surprise Lucy immediately signed up and got into it. It was a brief call to update her on the vision and she quickly got off and said, let me make some phone calls and send out some emails and we will make it happen. By the time I had talked to her, Mehul and I already had 3 bands from our meeting so we knew this had the potential to be a huge success. Now we had myself, Lucy and Marcus Lawyer working on getting bands.

Marcus Lawyer by the way is the general manager of Dojo and was huge in making this event the success it was. This guy is a freaking rock star, he worked like what 18 hours a day the days leading up to the event or something ridiculous like that. Music team check. Venue check, date check, partners check. Now what, gotta market this event. We need a name. I believe Martin was following the progress from afar and came up with Haiti Relief Jam. So that's what we decided. Haiti Relief Jam, Monday January 18th, visit for updates. We are rolling now. It was Thursday still and we had 3 days till Monday and its the weekend. We better blow up Twitter and Facebook to get Austinites support.

What better way to market a fundraiser for a great cause than with social media. Austin is one of the Top 10 Social Media using cities in the U.S., Yeah. So I quickly contacted a few people that I knew would help out because they are cool like that. The first three people I reached out to were all more than willing to help out in any way possible. Michael Pearson, @michaelpearsun aka THE MAN, Oscar Davila, @keepaustinwierd & @oscardavila, and Sonny Johns @sonnyjohns. I first met Mike within an hour or something ridiculous like that by the BestFit Media off at Doc's Motorworks on South Congress. Mike and I talked about the event and what we needed to do. While sitting at the bar, the Haiti news was on some of the screens over the bar and I kept just thinking, time is a ticking. I don't know what got into me but I started talking to the waitress behind the bar, Clair, who just gave off the vibe that she was a really sweet girl and I think I overheard her say something about the Haiti coverage and I was like, "Hey do you want to help us out with something we are doing that does something for the Haiti people" She said sure and we filled her in. She volunteered to help out in any way and she quickly got us in touch with a band, Love at War.

Within hours they were signed up to perform at Haiti Relief Jam. Mike volunteered to help us out with the music and social media area. He was all over this stuff. It was great connecting with him and making this happen with him, he was a great part in making this happen.

I got back to the office and emailed Sonny Johns and he quickly responded in email and twitter, he's all over the place (I'm sure he's reading this right now, lol). He signed up to help out in spreading the word. A few hours after I got in touch with Oscar Davila and he immediately said, let me know what I can do.

Social Media WAVE CHECK.

Ha so now we had;

Great connection to ground support in Haiti
Team working synergestically on different moving parts to reach a common goal. That of assisting the Haitian people in dire need.
Music lineup filling up

Now it was Thursday night and all this was accomplished in one day, are you kidding me. After leaving work around 6:30pm I get to Dojo to meet with my buddy Adam. We had arranged to hang out that night well in advance. Luckily, he brought his laptop because, I had left mine at work and my computer died. During that time, our page was up on the Dominican Joe's site and tweeting was going on gradually. To go and show you the power of social media and the digital age. There was a customer at Dojo who saw the page as it went up and emailed me to help out and we exchanged a few emails to find out he was in the coffee shop as well. His name was Brett Randell and I brought him up to speed and he jumped on board. He played in a band so we added him and he knew people as well so now he was part of the music team and helping out in social media.

Come Friday, it was now time to work out the details as the musical lineup formed. At this point we had 4 or 5 bands already committed to playing January 18th at times of their choice.

First we had to figure out ways that Sweet Leaf and could help out. We worked with Charla Adams from Sweet Lear and Kristin Owen from We brainstormed ideas amongst the group and we came up with a tea exchange for donations. Most importantly, Haiti Relief Jam gained two great volunteers in getting the word out through social media. Sweet Leaf also did an exchange for their new canned tea drink for any type of donation. I believe there were hundreds of those donations received, people really answered the call. Do512 got a flyer up on their site promoting the event on really short notice, so that was awesome. The Do512 social media team did a great job on Twitter, along with everyone else. It was quite the buzz because of everyone's promotion. The great thing about it all was not the online buzz but how those online friends were in many instances friends "in the real world" who are just as real as you and I. We all saw the need for Haiti Relief Jam and wanted to get the word out to the masses.

So about Sunday we pretty much had everything planned and figured out. By this time word started getting around and I was getting contacted by businesses wanting to get involved. Someone from Birds Barber Shop dropped off several pricey gift certificates. Someone from One: Help Haiti wipe its debt, , contacted me to set up a table and get petitions. I said heck yeah. From the get go we had a group representing Makarios and selling items made by Haitians and all proceeds went to benefit them. I can't remember the massage therapists name but she was awesome. I did not get a massage but she was giving massages for donations for like 8 hours. Talk about everyone doing something.

Monday comes, everything is pretty much being taken care of by Marcus Lawyer and his crew. By this time we had 18 bands booked to play all day January 18th from 10:00am to Midnight. Partners were ready to go and now it was like the movie quote from Field of Dreams "Build it and they will come" Mike assured me they would without a doubt. I was at work for that whole morning and afternoon. Luckily, I got a few chances to drive by during the day. When I went to go pick up lunch, I drove by and there were people waiting outside. It must have been around the time that the band from ACL went on. I kept in touch with everyone over there. Three news stations ended up going and covering the event. Just goes to show you what social media and emailing can do.

I did get to make it to see my friends perform, Bridgette Kern and Jerry at 5:30pm. If you haven't heard these guys, they rock. They are the next big thing. They put on a great show as usual. After them, The Jitterbug Vipers came on and they were phenomenal. I'm definitely a fan after seeing them play. Be sure to check them out. I did not get a chance to see Love at War. By this time I was starving and being killed with allergies. I had to get something to eat. I made it back in time to see Brent Randell. He put on a pretty good show as well.

Following Brett Randell was the incredible 15 year old phenom Ruby Jane. She just got off of tour with the legend Willie Nelson. This young lady sure can play the fiddle. She put on a phenomenal show. The fiddle and the rest of her band made for an awesome show.

After Ruby Jane, Brian Hudson went on. Formerly from the Hudson's, they were voted best folk band two years in a row. By this time some news station was out there filming him. Trying to find the links so I will add them as comments when I get them back again. Moving on. Because of something with the next band wanting to get too ridiculous with a huge set up that the Dojo band area couldnt support we had to improv the show a bit. So Brian Hudson played extra long and spent a good portion of the extra hour or so playing with Ruby Jane. Truly a unique experience and may never be heard again unless they look to follow up on the performance. I had never heard the two before and am not really into that genre of music but I am going to definitely start listening and going to their shows from now on.

The shows kept on getting better. Jimi Lee switched with Austin Heat for the 10:45pm show. By this time the crowds started to dwindle. It was no longer packed and with lines out the door, which by the way happened in the early evening as well. Jimi Lee was personally my fav show. Its not too often you get to see a guy sing, play the harmonica and play the guitar. This was was incredible. That's all I can say about it.

I was only able to stay for a bit of the Austin Heat show. This guys rocked the house that it was too much for me. The energy and awesome jams I did get to hear was the best way to end Haiti Relief Jam.

Today is January 28th and its been 10 days since the event. That's quite awhile. Now we have had a moment to take a look back and see its effect.

We raised over $6,000 and still counting.

That $6,000 went towards buying supplies to shuttle to various unassisted areas of refuge. In particular two small non-profit orphanages that were not getting any assistance and had 65 people at one and 75 at the other. $2000 purchase the following:

20 tarps
300 diapers
120 bags of oatmeal
15 cases of water
240 pounds of salamis
228 pounds of powdered milk
20 containers of cooking oil
30 cans of beans
75 pounds of rice
15 boxes baby cereal
antibiotics and painkillers for 80 people
an assortment of other medical supplies

So somewhere less than 3 times that but more than twice that.

You can also follow Makarios' updates on their homepage at:

Now what?

Well Makarios is going to continue doing what it does and so is Dominican Joe, answering the call. Here in Austin we are talking about continuing the relief efforts. This is not going to be restored nor remedied any time soon. It is going to take A LOT of TLC. Groups are working on future benefits so follow the link, , for updates.

I for one have some ideas on some things so I that may be a future post.

I want to thank everyone for coming together to answer the call of action. This event could not have been executed as flawlessly as it did if we did not have every single person involved in every step of the way.

Together we can always make a difference.